Aussie mining and finance companies urged to share mental health information
Mining and finance giants throughout Australia have been urged to provide more information on how they support mental health of their employees, as a new report by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) discovered the nation lags behind other countries.
This started as investors began applying increased pressure on companies to focus on the economic and financial costs of mental health, which could eventually lead to higher insurance claims as well as decreased productivity.
ACSI chief executive Loiuse Davidson believes providing more information on mental health is important for assisting investors to access environmental, social and corporate governance issues.
“A lack of reliable and comparable disclosure of corporate performance, beyond that contained in traditional financial reporting, can undermine effective communication of these longer-term measures of business success by company boards to their owners,” said Davidson.
The research found about 30 per cent of large mining and financial companies release little information regarding mental well-being support of its staff and the effectiveness of the programs it incorporates.
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In the finance industry, which reportedly has an above average rate of self-stated mental health problems, about a third of companies surveyed had data on staff turnover, while 25 per cent had numbers on workforce satisfaction.
In addition, about 60 per cent of financial businesses had either good or moderate disclosure in those areas, compared to 87 per cent of similar companies in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the mining industry has also begun conducting more research into mental health of its workforce due to the constant strain on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) employees’ personal lives. While over half of the mining companies have well-being programs, only a few disclosed details on worker satisfaction, absenteeism, turnover and overtime.
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Recently, mental health, welfare and medical groups in Australia have increased efforts to develop a fully funded mental health agreement, as the belief grows that the current system is flawed. Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley recently indicated the country is in need of a nationally coordinated and binding agreement on mental health.
“We have a real opportunity to deliver meaningful long-term reform, and this government is taking action by working hand-in-hand with the mental health sector to take the National Mental Health Commission’s landmark review from paper to policy,” said Ley in a statement.
“But we also need a national approach, and this has been recognized by health ministers at all levels of government. We are continuing to work together to deliver this fundamental reform.”
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.